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Triggering a digital audio recorder on a Canon Zoom DS-8


Jeremy Saint-Peyre
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Good evening,

I am the happy owner of a Canon Zoom DS-8. Close to the handle, there is a socket, according to the notice (here https://www.manualslib.com/manual/553933/Canon-Zoom-Ds-8.html?page=28#manual) you can trigger a tape recorder simultaneously with the shutter realease, if the remote control cable from the recorder is connected to the camera. The recorder power should be at maximum 24v /0.3A.

I succesfully post synchronised 30sec interval by clapping my hands while recording with my H4n nearby, results here (in french...) :


My goal is to have an on camera microphone with a digital recorder triggered by the camera... The cherry on top of the cake would be to have the sound recorder to stop record when the shutter realease button is reasleased.

I have no idea where to start. I guess i should invest in a basic recorder on wich i can plug my Rode microphone ?

I am a photographer, i'm kind of new in the  movie camera/sound sychro game so any opinions or leads are welcome !

Thanks !

Jérémy

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Sound like a fun project! 

If you can find a audio recorder with very simple single button cable remote you can probably hack it pretty easily . how the cameras remote port works, does it just close contacts or does it output any signal? If it just closes contacts then it should be a bit easier to start. 

One option for basic audio sync would be to just create some kind of bleeper marker system to the camera which outputs short beep sound when you start or stop the camera. Just like the 16 and 35 movie cameras and even digital cameras like arri can do

 

Depending on the system you may need some very simple and easy arduino programming. That is fun and easy and we can help with simple programs if needed

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So you should start by finding a recorder with very simple and easily hackable wired remote button. Then continuing figuring out how to close the hacked button contacts with the camera. You may want to have the arduino between these if you need latching functions for example the camera contacts staying closed the whole take converted to simulated single short button push when starting or stopping the recording on the audio recorder and possibly the additional bleep sound on both start and stop but not in the middle of takes

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Cassette recorder were fairly common to have a 2.5mm remote inlet mini-jack. Often microphone had a 3.5 and 2.5 sife by side on one plug-assembly
 

Are the digital recorders with these same 2.5mm jacks? Possibly the more professional carry on recorders?

 

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The H4n Pro has a remote control connector, so it can be started remotely. It's only a little jack plug so it's likely one could, with only a bit of ingenuity, program something like an arduino to start it up. Perhaps Zoom would be willing to release the protocol data.

It might even be simpler than that; sometimes things like this used switched resistances, and so on.

P

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This H4n pro doesn't list 2.5mm in the specs. Or are there other specs?

It seems this one has a 2.5mm jack for remote control:

https://www.tascam.eu/en/dr-40x#specs


The CANON has a flash contact with possible lock. Popular in the 60-ies?
Best to adapt a flash cable and fix a 2.5mm jack to it.

Or what another recorder might require.

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3 hours ago, Andries Molenaar said:

This H4n pro doesn't list 2.5mm in the specs. Or are there other specs?

The feature is described on page 43 of the operation manual: "Optional remote control operation." The optional RC4 controller is required.

It would be necessary to reverse-engineer how the RC4 controller talks to the H4n Pro (or get that information from Zoom) and implement that, which, I would wildly guess, is probably workable.

Oh - edit - it's absolutely workable, someone has already done it:

https://github.com/gschoppe/Blueduino-RC4

Basically you could make a box that sits between the trigger port on the camera and the remote control on the H4n and does exactly what you want.

P

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40 minutes ago, Phil Rhodes said:

The feature is described on page 43 of the operation manual: "Optional remote control operation." The optional RC4 controller is required.

It would be necessary to reverse-engineer how the RC4 controller talks to the H4n Pro (or get that information from Zoom) and implement that, which, I would wildly guess, is probably workable.

Oh - edit - it's absolutely workable, someone has already done it:

https://github.com/gschoppe/Blueduino-RC4

Basically you could make a box that sits between the trigger port on the camera and the remote control on the H4n and does exactly what you want.

P

Allright, so, let's say i build this Blueduino-RC4 (this would be my cheapest option, as i already have my H4n (not the Pro version) and a microphone), i'd just have to plug it on my camera through the flash socket (it's a synchroflash, it's also used to trigger flash when you do stop motion) and it would trigger the recording on the H4n ?

It will be wired like this : Camera --> Blueduino --> H4n

The Blueduino being build on this : https://store.arduino.cc/products/arduino-nano-33-ble ?

I have absolutly ZERO knowledge in arduino and electrotechnics (but i can shoot homemade glassplate...), so i wonder how i will plug the Blueduino on the camera...

And also, i aim to use it in the wild, so without power.

Would it be possible to add aapo lettinen features (the sound bleep on start and end) to this solution ?

An other problem i'm going to have is i think the vibration from the camera and the noise can be a problem. I cleaned my recording to get rid of the camera noise, but it's heavily done, so i'll buil a blimp to get it if not sound proof, at least sound discret.

Thanks again,

Jeremy

 

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You could make it bleep, although I'm not sure that's essential in a situation where the H4n recorder will create a file for each take automatically. You'll just get a bleep at the start and end of every file. To do that you'd have to route your audio through the controller, too, which might risk adding noise to it.

You would inevitably need some level of electrotechnical ability to do this. I would happily do it as a fun little project, but I don't have a Zoom H4n Pro or a DS-8 camera. You don't really need the bluetooth features, that's designed to make it wireless. You're probably happy with a wired control for this application.

The camera side of it may be quite simple - is that just a closing contact? Does it close the contact once per frame, or something like that? Can we obtain a compatible cable?

The H4n side is a little less simple and requires sending some serial bytes to the recorder to control it. It's not hard, it's a day's work, but I would hesitate to try to do it without the recorder available to test.

Phil

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Well, if the Canon has a flash contact to flash every frame it is not intended to control a recorder. You are in for a lot thinkering. 

If it were a short-contact to drive a recorder it could drive cassettes or tape recorder. It seems digital recorder don't have the same simple shorting inputs.  Simplest might be to fix two parallel to the RECORD button and possibly find a place for a receiver-connector on the hill.

That might work on the simple Olympus dictaphone here. It would deliver superior audio in comparison to ancient tapes 🙂  Possibly the more expensive one might have remote control input, intended for listening back by the typist.

Another option might be to use a portable MINI-DISC-drive. Digital and stereo

 

 

 

Edited by Andries Molenaar
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1 hour ago, Andries Molenaar said:

Well, if the Canon has a flash contact to flash every frame it is not intended to control a recorder. You are in for a lot thinkering. 

Eh, it's not that big a deal. Keep recording so long as you get pulses every so often!

The problem with a lot of this stuff (and I'm not sure this applies here) is that the trigger on a film camera is often continuous, that is, it runs while the contacts are closed and stops when they're open. A lot of modern digital stuff needs a start pulse and a stop pulse. This is trivially handled in a simple microcontroller program, which is why little arduino boards are very often pressed into service in interfacing and automation applications exactly like the one we're discussing here. 

P

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17 hours ago, Andries Molenaar said:

Well, if the Canon has a flash contact to flash every frame it is not intended to control a recorder. You are in for a lot thinkering. 

If it were a short-contact to drive a recorder it could drive cassettes or tape recorder. It seems digital recorder don't have the same simple shorting inputs.  Simplest might be to fix two parallel to the RECORD button and possibly find a place for a receiver-connector on the hill.

That might work on the simple Olympus dictaphone here. It would deliver superior audio in comparison to ancient tapes 🙂  Possibly the more expensive one might have remote control input, intended for listening back by the typist.

Another option might be to use a portable MINI-DISC-drive. Digital and stereo

 

 

 

Well, it is said in the user guide that the flash socket can be used to trigger sound recording, so it was intended in the camera engineering (here on page 28 https://www.manualslib.com/manual/553933/Canon-Zoom-Ds-8.html?page=28#manual). Also, it is true there is a single frame releases possible, the socket is clearly described as a "tape recorder starting socket" (page 3 of the manual). I think you can use it to trigger flash when you do single frame release, and there is also a special socket for "single frame release socket", it is nowhere said in the manual that you can trigger flash, i am just guessing from the socket. On my 814 XL-R there is this possibility, so i assumed it is the same on the DS-8. But it seems i was wrong.
 

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1 hour ago, Jeremy Saint-Peyre said:

Well, it is said in the user guide that the flash socket can be used to trigger sound recording, so it was intended in the camera engineering (here on page 28 https://www.manualslib.com/manual/553933/Canon-Zoom-Ds-8.html?page=28#manual). Also, it is true there is a single frame releases possible, the socket is clearly described as a "tape recorder starting socket" (page 3 of the manual). I think you can use it to trigger flash when you do single frame release, and there is also a special socket for "single frame release socket", it is nowhere said in the manual that you can trigger flash, i am just guessing from the socket. On my 814 XL-R there is this possibility, so i assumed it is the same on the DS-8. But it seems i was wrong.
 

Sounds good. Then the mission is to find a recorder with a simple remote input, if these exit.   Find a cable from and old flash and connect it to the recorder using a 2.5mm or what is to be found on it.

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18 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

You could make it bleep, although I'm not sure that's essential in a situation where the H4n recorder will create a file for each take automatically. You'll just get a bleep at the start and end of every file. To do that you'd have to route your audio through the controller, too, which might risk adding noise to it.

You would inevitably need some level of electrotechnical ability to do this. I would happily do it as a fun little project, but I don't have a Zoom H4n Pro or a DS-8 camera. You don't really need the bluetooth features, that's designed to make it wireless. You're probably happy with a wired control for this application.

The camera side of it may be quite simple - is that just a closing contact? Does it close the contact once per frame, or something like that? Can we obtain a compatible cable?

The H4n side is a little less simple and requires sending some serial bytes to the recorder to control it. It's not hard, it's a day's work, but I would hesitate to try to do it without the recorder available to test.

Phil

Allright, i going to try your option, it seems it can be done relatively quickly and it would give me what i need (start and stop the audio recording according to the camera)

I do not know if it is just a closing contact... how can i know that ? Plug a cable, make the camera run and use a multimeter to see if there is short hight tension or a continuous one ?

For the cable, i may have an old canon synchroflash cable with 2.5mm on one end. Otherwise, here are some options :
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1332403-REG/pluto_pc_cable_flash_pc_sync_cable.html
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1015044-REG/nero_trigger_cable_flash_cable_for_flash_units.html
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1494317-REG/tentacle_sync_c20_gh5s_tentacle_to_flash.html
https://www.missnumerique.com/miops-smart-cable-de-declenchement-pc-sync-pour-flash-p-29013.html

And for the H4n side that is less simple, where should i start ?

As the previous board is sold out, would this one https://store.arduino.cc/collections/boards/products/arduino-nano-rp2040-connect (also a 3,3v) do it ?

I still aim to shoot remotely in the wil, so this mean the board would take it's power from the camera ?

From what i understand from the GitHub page, the only thing i need beside the arduino board are the cables ?

Many thanks !

Jeremy

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26 minutes ago, Andries Molenaar said:

Sounds good. Then the mission is to find a recorder with a simple remote input, if these exit.   Find a cable from and old flash and connect it to the recorder using a 2.5mm or what is to be found on it.

The H4n do have a remote input as there is a remote available : https://zoomcorp.com/en/gb/accessories/power-accessories/rc4/

It may be a 3.5mm, but if needed, an adapter 3.5mm to 2.5mm should do it.

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4 minutes ago, Jeremy Saint-Peyre said:

The H4n do have a remote input as there is a remote available : https://zoomcorp.com/en/gb/accessories/power-accessories/rc4/

It may be a 3.5mm, but if needed, an adapter 3.5mm to 2.5mm should do it.

It is serial with a protocol, judging by the features. Design for that. Good luck.

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59 minutes ago, Jeremy Saint-Peyre said:

What do you mean ?

Apparently the camera has a shorting/making-switch behind the flash contact. Your intended recorder has apparently a serial protocol on its input. So you need to fabricate a circuit/controller which sends proper commands to start and stop the recorder. All from a distance so with conditions 🙂

Good luck and don't short any powersupplies.

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A simpler option might be to hack the rec button itself on that remote controller so that you don't have to emulate the communication protocol but just need a circuit which closes the button contacts momentarily when starting or stopping. Looks ugly but way easier to make

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To be clear, you would need to write code for this. Not much code, and it's a reasonable beginner Arduino project if you can stand some tinkering. If you want to avoid that, you may need to look for another solution.

The sequence of events would look like this:

- Any general-purpose input-output pin on the Arduino is wired to the DS-8 socket. Exactly how you do this depends on the DS-8 behaviour.

- Arduino serial output pins are wired to H4n control port.

- When software detects DS-8 start...

- Send serial control bytes to H4n

- When softare detects DS-8 stop...

- Send serial control bytes to H4n

It's not rocket science, but it's not just soldering wires.

1 hour ago, Jeremy Saint-Peyre said:

Plug a cable, make the camera run and use a multimeter to see if there is short hight tension or a continuous one ?

Yes, that's the first thing to figure out. It may be that the camera puts a voltage on the socket when it's running. It may also just be a closing contact, so that the two pins are connected together, which is actually easier.

I have never seen this camera but it looks like a standard flash sync connector as you'd see on a stills camera. Probably you could just buy a cheap flash sync cable and cut it in half to obtain the right connector.

If you want to do this little project, order a flash sync cable with a compatible connector and we'll take it from there.

P

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6 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

A simpler option might be to hack the rec button itself on that remote controller so that you don't have to emulate the communication protocol but just need a circuit which closes the button contacts momentarily when starting or stopping. Looks ugly but way easier to make

That is what I suggest too. All this overdesigning is not going to pay back. With so many hours spent you are never going to win back over manual control.

 

Good luck.

Edited by Andries Molenaar
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I would agree, although the serial protocol on the H4n really is about as simple as it's possible for that sort of thing to be, and it requires no modification of the H4n or camera.

You would still need a circuit board of some kind to generate "start" and "stop" pulses from whatever the DS-8 is doing.

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If you are happy with monaural sound, you can plug two microphones into a stereo recorder, a cheap little one that you tape onto the camera body in order to pick up the running noise and a good one for audio. Let the recorder be on all the time until you have finished shooting. Afterwards you can scroll from take to take by the noise recordings, synch image and sound but use the good track.

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